The University Record, January 30, 1995

Senate Assembly approves recommendations on climate for minority faculty

By Mary Jo Frank
Record Special Writer

A fine-tuned set of recommendations addressing the quality of the University climate for minority faculty was approved last Monday by Senate Assembly.

The Assembly accepted a report by the author of the recommendations—the faculty’s Committee for a Multicultural University—in December but had sent it back so the committee could address concerns raised by Assembly members.

The result, according to committee chair Rashid Bashshur, are recommendations reflecting a more “positive approach” to working on climate issues and greater responsibility for faculty members.

The recommendations acknowledge and compliment the University’s efforts to recruit underrepresented minority faculty, noting that during the last decade, the number and proportion of faculty of color has increased in some units.

“However, the success in recruitment has not been matched by an equivalent success in improving retention and promotion,” according to the committee.

The recommendations call for the University to:

· Recommit itself to its established policy of advancing diversity and integration in academic life and look for ways to strengthen this policy. Diversity consists of enriching the cultural, ethnic and gender composition of the faculty. Integration consists of increased collegial interaction, the pursuit of common goals in teaching, research and service, interdisciplinary work, and greater tolerance and understanding among the various groups on campus.

· Develop and implement mechanisms to ensure the uniform adoption of an explicit policy by all units and departments within the campus community to achieve the common goals of diversity and integration. All units should be asked to develop strategic plans for reaching these goals and to monitor their progress in achieving them. All departments should be asked to hold discussions and develop specific plans to improve mentoring and provide support to promote retention of all faculty.

· Enact a policy focused on issues of retention and climate. It must establish clear and attainable paths to promotion, merit review and tenure based on the use of fair and uniform criteria for merit review and promotion. Consistent with declared University policy, the criteria must provide for appropriate weighting of quality of teaching, student advising, and University and community service, in addition to scholarship and research funding.

The policy must pay special attention to the concerns of minority women faculty, including cultural sensitivity, merit review, promotion and compensation.

· Support special programs aimed at promoting diversity and integration, including faculty exchange, visiting professorships, andcenters for underrepresented minority and women faculty.

Bashshur said the recommendations reflect current University policy but deserve reinforcement. One of the committee’s goals is to develop additional detailed and targeted recommendations, he added.

Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr. and some faculty members questioned to whom the recommendations are addressed.

Chair Jean Loup said the Assembly could send them to college and school executive committees, but that was not part of the motion approved by the Assembly.

Several faculty members, including human genetics Prof. George J. Brewer, praised the committee for its two-year effort. “This is a remarkable, comprehensive, well done study. The committee deserves accolades for its work,” he said.

The Assembly tabled a related motion introduced by Alfredo Montalvo, associate professor of art, that would have charged the Committee on a Multicultural University “to monitor the recruitment and retention efforts regarding faculty of color of the schools and colleges and central administration,” advise the provost and the vice provost for academic and multicultural affairs of its findings and report the findings annually to Senate Assembly.